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ANTIVIRUS: HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said in verse 7 of John 16, "For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Jesus was God in the flesh, of course. He could have spoken this world out of existence at any given time, but, I would like to use an illustration of the Holy Spirit to those who use the computer and realize what a great tool it is for the cause of Christ.
Before you accept Christ as your Saviour, you are full of sin without any hope of living the life that Jesus calls more abundant. You have been given a death sentence. While you are here on this Earth, you learn and fill your memory full of things--even good things--that will get you nowhere with God. Itís like a computer with no protection and full of viruses and things that are not useful and headed for self destruction.
Satan, the extreme virus that invades your mind. (Hard drive) When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, there are a few things that happen when you do:
First of all, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside you. Jesus said He comes: he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Greek word for "reprove" is elegchŰ which means "to convict."
Number 1. He convicts us of our sin. (He scans us and calls for removal)
Number 2. He was raised from the dead that you and I could not only have our sins subtracted, but so we could have His righteousness. added. (Sin is deleted and the antivirus takes over)
Number 3. He convicts of judgment: Itís not the judgment that is to come. This world has already been judged, and itís guilty of sin. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We are guilty, and the Holy Spirit speaks to us and shows us that we are only filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God, but because of Jesus, we are accepted and forgiven by His grace and mercy. (We see the need for a antivirus because we are vulnerable to all)
Once you ask Jesus into your heart, itís as if you would download a file in your computer for an antivirus program, except this is a living holy being called the Holy Spirit and the subscription will last forever.
Itís the third of the trinity, Father (God), Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (indwells the believer) We need the Holy Spirit as our computers need an antivirus. There are many brand names of the program, but there is only one that works. There is only one that never needs updating, always the same yesterday, today and forever. Best of all its free for the asking. Romans 10: 9-10
The only way truth and life, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Once upon a time, in the heart of the Western Kingdom, lay a beautiful garden. And there, in the cool of the day, the Master of the garden was wont to walk. Of all the denizens of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was gracious and noble bamboo. Year after year, bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight, but modest and gentle withal. And often when the wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside his grave stateliness, to dance and play right merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the garden, Which most delighted the Master’s heart.
Now, once upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting.
The Master spoke: "Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use you."
Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come, the day for which he had been made, the day to which he had been growing hour by hour, the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny.
His voice came low: "Master, I’m ready. Use me as Thou wilt."
"Bamboo," - The Master’s voice was grave --- "I would have to take you and cut you down!"
A trembling of great horror shook Bamboo…"Cut …me… down ? Me.. who thou, Master, has made the most beautiful in all thy Garden…cut me down! Ah, not that. Not that. Use me for the joy, use me for the glory, oh master, but cut me not down!"
Beloved Bamboo,"-The Master’s voice grew graver still-"If I cut you not down, I cannot use you."
The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There was a whisper:
"Master, if thou cannot use me other than to cut me down.. then do thy will and cut".
"Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would cut your leaves and branches from you also".
"Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust; but would thou also have to take from me, my leaves and branches too?"
"Bamboo, if I cut them not away, I cannot use you."
The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low: "Master, cut away"
"Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet… split you in two and cut out your heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use you."
Then Bamboo bowed to the ground: "Master, Master… then cut and split."
So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo… and cut him down… and hacked off his branches… and stripped off his leaves… and split him in two… and cut out his heart.
And lifting him gently, carried him to where there was a spring of fresh sparkling water in the midst of his dry fields. Then putting one end of the broken Bamboo in the spring and the other end into the water channel in His field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo… And the spring sang welcome, and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.
In that day Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, was yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master’s world.
This past January the pastors were at a retreat in Duluth and the speaker told of a missionary friend who was trying to reach this group of people in Mexico.
They had a difficult time because these villagers had what he phrased ďa scarcity mentality.Ē The missionary said their belief affected their whole lives. For example, parents would only have one child because their belief was if we have two children our love would be split in half, 50% going to one child and 50% going to another child. Heaven forbid if you had 4 children, each child would only receive 25% of their parentsí love.
This scarcity view believed there is only so much of the pie, and the more people you had the smaller shares of the pie each would get.
As a result of this belief system, the missionary found it very difficult to reach this group for the gospel because this ďscarcity viewĒ created a mentality of greed among the people because there is only so much of the pie so I better get otherwise Iíll be left out.
The missionary tried to teach these people about Godís way and he phrased it ďthe abundance mentality.Ē For example, God does not have a limited supply of love. Godís love is abundant, he pours it out on all his children. Godís love is not contingent on the number of children he has.
Dr. Bruce Emmert
Indian Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favorite moviesóitís great entertainment but it packs a powerful punch of a message about finding happiness and joy [Show the clip toward the end of the movie when Elsa has fallen to her death grasping for the grail and then Indiana nearly dies as he reaches for the Holy Grail even as his father is trying to save him.]
Indiana Jones is grasping for the Holy Grail even as he is about to plunge to his death. His father implores him, ďIndiana, let it go.Ē All too often it is not what we lack that inhibits us from experiencing abundant life: what keeps us from experiencing life abundant is the stuff of earth that we do not want to let go of or to lose. Jesus said that he came to give life, and give it abundantly. If that is the case, then...
"God controls all that happens in His world, every meal, every pleasure, every possession, every bit of sun, every nightís sleep, every moment of health and safety, everything that sustains and enriches life, is a divine gift. And how abundant these gifts are!"
J.I Packer, Knowing God, p. 147
** IS THE CHURCH ON THE ENDANGERED LIST?
Many Americans are on a spiritual quest. This should be good news
for the church. But, according to researchers, many of them are
choosing noninstitutional forms of religion. A recent poll by Gallup
shows that weekly church attendance is holding steady at about 40
percent of the population - the same rate as in the 1950s. But other
researchers - like Dave T. Olson, director of TheAmericanChurch.org
- claim only 17.7 percent of the population attends a church service
any given weekend.
Olson, who bases his numbers on annual church attendance reported by
individual U.S. congregations, says, "People who only go to church
now and again exaggerate how often they go."
Albert Winseman, religion and social trends editor for the Gallup
Organization, says people are shopping for alternatives to church
and that is one reason 3,000 local churches close their doors
"Most denominations are either declining or stagnant," says
The Assemblies of God is one of the few Christian groups to show
steady growth in recent years. The Yearbook of American and Canadian
Churches reports the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are the
only Protestant faith groups of the largest 25 to report an increase
in membership for 2004.
An April Gallup poll indicated 65 percent of Pentecostals attend
church weekly, second only to Church of Christ (at 68 percent) among
VANISHING PROTESTANT MAJORITY
Half a century ago, two-thirds of the population considered
themselves Protestants. Officially, for the first time last year,
self-identified Protestants dipped below half of all Americans,
according to Gallup research.
Evangelical and Pentecostal church attendance looks stable, but
membership isnít keeping pace with population growth. Olson says
although the same number of people are attending church as 15 years
ago, there are an additional 48 million people living in the
But people are not necessarily flocking to other faiths. J. Gordon
Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, says
tabulating all the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and New Agers
accounts for only 7 percent of Americans. Self-professing atheists
comprise another 10 percent of the population.
"In the culture today we donít have the churchgoing momentum we did
in the 1950s, when írespectable peopleí attended church every week,"
says Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
"Thereís no guarantee anymore that people are going to come to
Although only 17 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly,
about 80 percent of the population professes Christianity.
Pollster George Barna, who last year wrote the book "Revolution:
Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary," believes a
transformational shift is occurring in how Christians view church.
He claims more than 20 million committed yet disaffected
"revolutionaries" have struck out on their own to form house
churches, family faith communities and cyberchurches.
WHAT CHURCH OFFERS
Creps, author of "Off-Road Disciples," believes these
"revolutionaries" are forfeiting a great deal by not being involved
in a local church. "A great church offers relational connections,
people modeling how to live faith, accountability, the enormous
power of a group worship experience and the operation of the gifts
of the Spirit," he says.
Theologian J.I. Packer says the reality of corporate church life
pervaded first-century Christianity and should today as well.
"Individuality is not correct, according to biblical standards,"
says Packer, author of "Knowing God." "The church is central in
Godís plan. God uses the church to set up His kingdom - the
corporate relational reality where people respond to Christ as King.
We canít dismiss the structure God has established."
Many observers believe house churches and cyberchurch movements are
short-lived trends that will never amount to more than 5 percent of
Melton says such methods donít represent a new phenomenon. "For
decades people have been saying they can be a good Christian and
never go to church," he says.
Gallup sees a strong link between individual spiritual commitment
and church attendance by measuring factors such as prayer, Bible
study and small group involvement.
"People can say they are a spiritually committed person without
attending church, but it happens only 5 percent of the time,"
Creps says merely getting people into the sanctuary isnít the goal.
"The issue really is the need for every person to come to God
through His Son Jesus Christ. That involves a connection with a
community of Christians - which we call church."
"The church is Godís primary vehicle for the proclamation of the
gospel," Winseman says. "The abundant life is found most abundantly
in the community of the local church."
--John W. Kennedy, Todayís Pentecostal Evangel
This article reveals the current condition of the church and some new trends in Christianity but for the church to be the Acts New Testament church we need to continue to explore and discover from acts what it looks like and what it does.
Wade Hughes, Sr
THE SPILLED FRUIT SALAD!
Here is a bowl of fruit salad for you!
I always make fruit salad for Christmas, it has been a family tradition for many years.
While at home, my Mom and Dad always received a lot of fruit for Christmas.
We would always make fruit salad out of the fruit and top it with marshmallows.
Apples were always abundant.
My Momís battle with cancer was near an end, it would be her last year with us here on earth.
As Mom was carrying the bowl of fruit salad to the refrigerator, and in her weakness
she dropped the whole huge bowl of fruit salad.
She started crying and was embarrassed that she had dropped the bowl.
I hugged Mom and told her that was all right, we would make another bowl.
I was cleaning the gallon of fruit salad from all over the floor.
As Mom cried, she said, Son, we often get mad at people who spill things, parents get mad
at little kids for spilling things, a wife gets mad at her husband for spilling things, and sometimes spills
are a part of life.
I replied, Mom, you are right, sometimes we spill things, and wish we hadnít, but it does not matter,
letís laugh, clean it up, and make some more.
I ran to Winn-Dixie and bought more fruit, and we came home and made another bowl.
The whole family joined in, and making the second bowl was much more meaningful than the first.
We laughed and laughed remembering Christmasí passed. The spill pulled the whole family together
to encourage Mom.
When it was all over, Mom hugged me again, and said, Son, you are a good son.
I hugged Mom back and told her she was a GOOD MOM.
I guess, I am wanting to tell you, if you spill something, donít get mad, laugh, CLEAN IT UP,
and try again.
Neil Orchard was talking with a farmer about his soy bean and corn crops. Rain had
been abundant, and the results were evident. So his comment surprised him: "My crops are
especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect."
"Why?" Orchard asked.
He explained that while we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the
plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water. The roots remain near the
surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them.
Some Christians receive abundant "rains" of worship, fellowship, and teaching. Yet when stress enters th...
Which Way, O Lord?
"This is what the Lord says; 'Stand at the crossroads and look... ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'" Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
The way many people attempt to determine the will of God would make a great new television series entitled, "That's Unbelievable!"
A woman with a lifetime dream of going to the Holy Land was trying to determine the will of God on this matter. Before going to bed one night, she read the tour pamphlet and noticed in the plans that they would be traveling on a 747 jet. She tossed back and forth that night and laid awake for hours wondering what God would have her do. Rolling over in the morning, she noticed that her beside clock read 7:47. Her answer! She became convinced that this was God's answer to her and it was His will for her to make that trip. "That's Unbelievable!"
You cannot readily determine the will of God for your life outside of having your heart opened through prayer, the study of God's Word and obedience to it. And, if you are outside the will of God, you will find yourself without peace in your life.
When the prophet Jeremiah spoke the words quoted above, Jerusalem was being threatened with total destruction. Like today, the warning signs were all around the people. God in His great love was sounding the danger alarm so that they would turn from their wicked ways and be saved. But in Jeremiah 6: 10, we read that "The word of the Lord [was] offensive to them; they [found] no pleasure in it." So, the siege works were being built outside their walls and utter ruin lay ahead.
Has the Word of the Lord been offensive to you? Do you find no pleasure in it? Are you suffering from the devastating effects of your own bad choices, divorce or sexual sin? Are your hopes and dreams dead? Perhaps you are bound up by addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography and can't break away. Are financial pressures, wayward children or broken relationships weighing heavily on your soul? Is your life under siege? Are you standing at the crossroads today? The Lord is saying to you "Look... ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your soul."
Where is the "good way" to be found? The prophet Isaiah tells us to "Seek ye out the book of the Lord." The apostle Paul teaches that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness."
If there is not a joy in your heart when you read the Word of God or there is no draw to read the Bible at all, then you have not found the Christ of the Bible or you're simply not walking in obedience to God's Son. For He is the Word made flesh. (John 1: 14) You are not truly asking "Which way, O Lord?" You are telling Him how you are going to live and demanding that He bless it. That is the sin which keeps you from living the abundant life promised in Christ.
If you are seeking peace in your life and rest for your soul today, you are standing at the CrossRoads...and all signs are pointing to Jesus!
In December 1990, the threat of war with Iraq was looming. Many reserves and National Guard troops were mobilized. There were some homes where father and mother were both deployed.
Recognizing this situation (that both father and mother would be gone overseas), a civic organization in Forsyth, Georgia, decided to do something for the children of these families. The civic club arranged with a toy store in Macon, Georgia, to bring these children in to choose anything they wanted for Christmas. Various news reporters from local television stations captured the visit on video.
Children ran through the store joyfully snatching one toy after another from the shelves. One little girl about eleven years old was standing beside a woman who had helped arrange the visit.
The woman said, "Honey, pick out anything you want." The little girl walked hesitantly to a display of rag dolls, picked up one, and slowly turned it over and over in her hands. She shyly asked, "How much does it cost?" The lady replied, "Itsí all paid for. Pick out anything you want." The little girl asked again, "But how much does it cost?" Again, the woman replied, "Itís all paid for. Pick out anything you want."
The rich and satisfying life comes from knowing the shepherd is watching over us.
(Contributed by Don Howell to Proclaim magazine. O-D 1994. p. 29. LifeWay resources. From a sermon by Leland Patrick, "Finding The Abundant Life" 1/25/2009)